Word for Word 5/17/17

Rev. Kim Gates
Rev. Kim Gates

This clergy column is called “Word for Word” but what if no words come? What if it seems God is silent? Does it mean abandonment?! I don’t believe so – I don’t believe we are ever alone - whether one believes in God or not, God is still with you!

There are numerous references to the fact (in the Hebrew Scriptures AND New Testament) that God does not abandon nor orphan us as His children. As I write this, Mothers’ Day is just days away and Father’s Day is a month away – many of us say we would be ‘lost’ without having had our moms and dads! So thinking about being orphaned/abandoned is perhaps the ‘word’ I should explore with you.

Many children experience a form of abandonment or being ‘orphaned’ today without actually losing their parents. When children are neglected/ignored their parents have emotionally abandoned them -regardless of socio-economic status. Sometimes parents are more concerned with their own needs and desires than that of their children and it has to do with maturity, not income level.

As a community of faith, we have been told by Christ himself that we best imitate Jesus when, “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25). All these things can be figurative as well as literal – emotional as well as physical. You may know a child in your neighborhood that is “abandoned/orphaned” emotionally and/or spiritually. They may be the most annoying kid on the block but it’s because they are hungering and thirsting for loving attention! We are called to be Christ to these lonely young souls! And with school about to be concluded for 2016-17, a l-o-n-g summer could be stretching out before these kids!

Be aware of the children (as well as God’s children of all ages) who seem to be lost and alone. You may have to really look intently at people you’ve known all their life with different eyes to see the lonely, abandonment. You may have to listen carefully to pick up on the clues given that there is emptiness in their lives. If we don’t offer to fill that emptiness/loneliness with Christ-like love and care, these children may find other destructive things to fill that empty, aching space!

So this summer, don’t only watch for kids out-n-about but watch out for their mental and spiritual well-being, too. It is a Christ-like, Christian way to live out your faith. Call your church, library, park-n-recreation department and/or school to see if you can volunteer or just take a walk around your block with your eyes, ears and heart wide open and make those connections which can bring healing and wholeness.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17). Don’t we want the next generations to be whole and emotionally healthy children open to the call of God upon their life? I believe reaching all ages of God’s children with care and concern sets us up to remain more childlike in our wonderment and awe of this world and in our anticipation of the world yet to come.

Be a Child of God to a child in need and you will both know/feel the love and companionship of God. Who knows, it might not even require very many “words” – just caring acknowledgement and an interest shown in their life! So “go” and love your little neighbors as you love yourself!

Rev. Kim Gates
St. Paul’s Waukon,
Forest Mills UMC

 

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